Meditation on the Corporal Works of Mercy

teaching eighth grade

I’m always suspicious of people who tell me that when they were in Vegas, they won X amount of money playing a certain game or machine. They never tell you how much they lost along the way!

In the same way, I’m about to tell you about a moment I had last night at religious education that was like hitting the jackpot. I’ll follow that, however, with a little disclaimer that shows it wasn’t all roses.

Anyway, last night I led a guided meditation on the Corporal Works of Mercy. In this meditation, Jesus enters the room and sits down next to the young person and they engage in conversation about what it means to follow Jesus. Jesus then slowly lays out the works of mercy that his disciples are called to do. In all, the meditation lasted about 15 minutes and I did it for four separate groups of 8th graders.

The “jackpot” moment was after one of the meditations, when I was explaining to the group that they had just meditated and that they key is to use their imaginations to engage in conversation with Jesus. A young man then said, “Yeah, it’s like he was sitting right next to me.”

WOW! Isn’t that what we catechists live for? I was thrilled to hear him say this, especially in front of his peers. I told the group that this is something they can practice at home: go to their room, get in a comfortable position, pay attention to their breathing until they slow it down, and then imagine Jesus entering the room to sit and talk with them.

Now, before you think that I had them eating out of my hand all night, here’s what else I dealt with:

  • a cell phone going off in the middle of one meditation
  • three young people who just couldn’t stop chatting with one another
  • one young person who felt compelled to just blurt out a comment every few minutes during the meditation despite my directions for quiet
  • a mysterious laser pointer whose source I was never able to determine
  • two young people with the giggles during a meditation
  • one young person who fell asleep during the meditation

Out of the four meditations, I would say two went extremely well, one was OK, and one was a struggle. The bottom line is that we have to let the weeds and the wheat grow together (Matthew 13:24-30).  We need patience and endurance to put up with the frustrating part of our ministry, knowing that God’s grace can, does, and will penetrate and make an impact on some who are ready.

Download the text of the meditation here. 


About Joe Paprocki 2742 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at


  1. Joe,

    I remember telling you some months ago about how I did this with my class. Very Powerful! I like the style in which you conducted this meeting with Christ! They always need to remember that Christ is always with them (and us) and we can speak with Him whenever we want!

    God Bless!
    Joe Diorio

  2. I enjoyed reading your experience w/ meditations. We (I co-teach) have used them successfully with 8th graders until this year. While past groups loved them this year’s unique group could never settle down long enough.

    It was a reminder that we as catechists need to adapt our methods to the personality of each year’s group rather than force what we might like. Your Catechist’s toolbox has been helpful in finding other methods to try to reach this very active class. And listening to your experiences also helps accept the frustrations and challenges faced each week.

  3. Brad, you sum it up very well. In fact, this very night, my class was so “active” that I couldn’t accomplish what I had hoped. It was a frustrating night. But, alas, I have no doubt that they will bounce back next time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.